Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Sushi is Here to Stay – Togo Sushi

July 18, 2013
Togo Sushi, Richmond BC
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Kamikaze Roll
Awesome Roll

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ImageWho would want McDonald’s when you can have delicious sushi at similar prices right next door? That’s how Togo Sushi first caught my eye – displays of delicious-looking rolls were so tempting when you are lining up for McDonald’s. This little restaurant mostly has to-go customers but also a couple of seats for those who would like to eat there.

The Kamikaze Roll was salmon on top of a spicy salmon roll. This would be perfect for any salmon lover. The fish, even that in the spicy salmon, was very fresh. I liked how the spicy salmon came in pretty large pieces. It was spicy but not burning. The rice was also quite nice. Image

The Awesome Roll did its name justice. On top of the California roll was cooked salmon, masago, green onion, teriyaki sauce, spicy mayo, and a ton of yam strings. I loved the spicy and sweet from the two sauces. The salmon was nice and the imitation crab and avocado inside the roll were sweet and creamy. The yam strings made it outstanding though. With the sauces, it was sweet on two different levels and slightly spicy… and very crunchy. 

Togo Sushi had very friendly service and reasonable prices ($6.50 for the Kamikaze Roll and $7.95 for the Awesome Roll). No, they don’t have reusable plates and chopsticks, but for such a small place in Richmond Centre, they really don’t need to. It’s still a great option – better than Umi up in the food court due to more variety and cheaper prices, and the fact that it is made-to-order. 

Togo Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Canadian Rock ‘n Roll – Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant

July 1, 2013
Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
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Salmon Sashimi
Chicken Teriyaki
Spicy Tuna Cone
Seafood Yaki Soba
Rock’n Roll
House Special Roll
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ImageNone of us wanted food until 9pm. Since it was Canada Day, many places closed early or just plain closed for the day. Thinking sushi was probably our best bet, we headed to Kisha Poppo after calling to make sure they were on their regular Monday hours – thankfully, they were. The restaurant was more than half filled when we got there so clearly, it would have been a bad decision to close.

We started with Salmon Sashimi. They were out of sockeye so we settled for Atlantic salmon. It was still very fresh but the presentation was a little lacking. Image

The Chicken Teriyaki was nothing too special although it had good flavour with enough sauce covering the slightly fried chicken filet strips. It came with carrots, broccoli, and bean sprouts, which, covered with the sauce, were quite good.Image

The Spicy Tuna Cone was okay. It had a decent kick but did not taste like the freshest tuna. The rice was okay; this was just your average cone.Image

The Seafood Yaki Soba could have used more seafood but the soy flavour was good. It was still sizzling like crazy when we got it. There were some shrimp, salmon, and maybe some other fish, but more seafood was definitely needed just so that it was not all noodles and vegetables.

The Rock’n Roll was the best dish oImagef the night. Kisha Poppo doesn’t really have special rolls so you have to be picking them out of the maki roll section. This one was probably their best roll – and one of the more expensive at $8.95, which is actually not too bad. It was a unagi and cucumber roll with smoked salmon and avocado on top. The flavour from the unagi was good and the salmon was not bland either. The avocado provided a nice creamy texture.Image

Finally, the House Special Roll had a variety of sashimi – salmon, tuna, and some other fish – kani, and cucumbers inside. It was huge pieces but did not have much flavour. Unagi, pickles, or even tamago might have been a nice addition.

Located away from the Asian centres in Richmond, Kisha Poppo has your generic casual Japanese fare at reasonable prices. They also have all you can eat options and is a good choice if you are on the other side of town. 

Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant 汽車ポッポ日本料理 on Urbanspoon

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Here’re Your Fish & Chips, Canada! – Pajo’s

July 1, 2013
Pajo’s, Richmond BC
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Halibut Fish & Chips
Cod Fish & Chips
Salmon Fish
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ImageHappy birthday, Canada! As anyone going to the Salmon Festival in Steveston knows, besides the salmon grill, Timothy’s frozen yogurt, and screamers, one of the most popular food places with a crazy line is at Pajo’s. This time, the line is not out the door… it’s off the dock. I love how you have to go down a little bridge to a tiny dock where the restaurant is to get your food!

The Halibut Fish & Chips were absolutely delicious. One of the best things with too many people lining up is that you are guaranteed incredibly fresh food. The fish was soft, flaky, and moist. The batter, while not beer-battered as my new-found foodie friend, Sam, pointed out, was still thin enough and crispy. It was a little greasy but not too bad.Image

The Cod Fish & Chips were also good but I prefer the halibut as the cod was a little less flaky and a little drier. The batter was still good. The chips, or fries rather, were crispy and mushy on the inside. The tartar sauce was also tangy and creamy.

ImageThe Salmon Fish was totally different. Salmon tends to be dry when cooked and this was no exception. It was a lot fishier than the halibut and cod and I did not like that flavour together with the crispy, oily batter as much. It just does not taste refreshing – well, as refreshing as fried fish can get anyways. 

The best fish and chips in Steveston did not let me down on Canada Day. It’s very fairly priced as well and they try to keep the line moving. Eating it almost right on the water also makes it a great experience!

Pajo's Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

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Get Crazy, Get Creative, Get Rollin’ – Crazy Sushi

June 24, 2013
Crazy Sushi, Philadelphia PA
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Puppy Love
Odessa Roll
Bloomingdale Roll
Spicy Cook Scallop Roll
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ImageI love creative, unique sushi rolls. After all, kappa makis were always boring, California rolls have become boring, and even Alaska or Philadelphia rolls are no longer interesting. Crazy Sushi seemed perfect to hang out and catch up with yet another graduated friend one last time this summer.

We started with Puppy Love, a cold appetizer roll of spicy tuna wrapped with sea bass and special sauce. The presentation was quite elegant and it was just a delicious, fishy bite. Like I said, there are always ways to make rolls interesting, and sometimes, one delicious bite is just the best way to start a meal.Image

For our main rolls, we started with the Odessa Roll, with tuna, eel, masago, crunchy, and spicy mayo rolled in salmon. Again, this roll had no rice, just fish and other good stuff. The fish was decently fresh and I always love my rolls with unagi, or BBQ eel. The crunchy bits added texture and the spicy mayo went nicely with the sweet unagi sauce. This was just more delicious bites.Image

Next was the Bloomingdale Roll, with spicy tuna, spicy salmon, spicy kani, spicy yellowtail, spicy shrimp, avocado, and a longan fruit on top. Wrapped in soy paper instead of nori, it was pretty in pink. The spicy fish mixture made it hard to tell what fish was actually in it and only two pieces actually had avocado in it. Consistency is questionable and the spicy mayo makes it hard to taste the actual fish. It had a fair kick, however, and the sweet longan on top was an interesting twist.Image

Finally, the Spicy Cook Scallop Roll was just your regular spicy scallop roll. The scallops had a little too much batter on it and there did not seem to be enough scallops. At least the roll was not overloaded with rice, though.Image

Crazy Sushi was a cute little place and certainly good for creative sushi cravings. With so many different ingredients and fish, they make an incredible number of unique rolls that it will take more than a few meals to try them all. They take rolls to the next level of crazy.

Crazy Sushi on Urbanspoon

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Spicy Hurricane – Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant

June 23, 2013
Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant, Philadelphia PA
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Spicy Beef Gyoza
Shrimp Teriyaki
Hurricane Roll
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A friend recently graduated and so we went out for dinner one last time before he leaves. It was a lovely, sunny evening so we walked all the way over to Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant. The temperature was just perfect so we walked back afterwards as well, a great way to start digesting all that food.

ImageThe restaurant was very quiet but there was a decent number of tables occupied for a Monday evening. The waitresses were all in Japanese-style apparel, which just compliments the whole atmosphere.

We started with the Spicy Beef Gyoza. It did not have as much of a kick as I hoped but was a nice deviation from your traditional pork gyoza. The skin was nice and crispy and the filling was quite flavourful.Image

The Shrimp Teriyaki was served with a small salad and rice. The shrimp were tender and coated with a good amount of the sweet teriyaki. The broccoli and carrots were nicely steamed but I really just liked the yam and sweet potato chips. At least, I think they were yam chips; potatoes just do not get that huge. They were crispy and chewy once they were soaked a little in the sauce.Image

Finally, the Hurricane Roll had tons of flavour with salmon, masago, avocado, and spicy yellowtail. The spicy yellowtail was a nice change and the avocado added the necessary creaminess to balance the decent spicy kick from the fish and the green scallions on top. The rice was good and there was not too much of it.

Fuji Mountain is not exactly the cheapest Japanese restaurants around but it is acceptable for quite decent food compared to some other places around town. It’s a little more high-end than a lot of the smaller lunch spots, with an extensive menu. If you want to sing, just head upstairs for some karaoke.

Fuji Mountain on Urbanspoon

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The Italians Like their Red Fruit – Italian Tomato

May 13, 2013
Italian Tomato, Richmond BC
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Penne Pescatore
Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci

Penne Paesana
Calamari Fritti
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ImageHaving heard of the extremely large and filling pasta portions at Italian Tomato, my friends I decided it was a good option for us as we were quite hungry after two games of bowling. The décor was nice but since we wanted to sit and chat, we took a long time to eat. The waitress was clearly getting impatient, but it was not like there were many others in the restaurant waiting on our table.

My Penne Pescatore was quite lovely. The tomato sauce was nicely seasoned and had a nice, tangy flavour. The small scallops were tender and better than the tiny shrimp and clams. I did like the mushrooms as well. Three of my favourite foods mixed into one. The penne was al dente and picked up the sauce very nicely – one of the reasons I prefer penne to other pastas.Image

The Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci had a light, creamy flavour. The sauce was not very thick. The whole wheat linguine was good, as were the spinach and tomatoes. I can’t say I like the chicken that much, though, as it was a tad bland and tough. There also was not as much chicken as you would expect in such a large plate of food.Image

The Penne Paesana was good with the smoked salmon, scallops, clams, and shrimp. The light dill cream sauce did not seem to taste as good with the seafood as my tomato sauce did. However, the seafood was still nice, and again, the penne was just wonderful.Image

Finally, the Calamari Fritti was nicely fried with a good tzatziki sauce. It was not overly greasy but was definitely a bit overpriced for such a small portion that would be nowhere near $11.95.

A final note: they offer smaller portions that are $2 cheaper, but when I asked the server, he told us it was half the amount of pasta. Clearly, that would be a huge rip off, so definitely go for the larger plates!

Italian Tomato on Urbanspoon

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That Tiramisu! – Al Porto Ristorante

May 11, 2013
Al Porto Ristorante, Vancouver BC
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[Bread Basket]
Linguine Pescatore
Calamari
Mussels
Tiramisu
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ImageFor a long-time friend’s 20th birthday party, we went to Al Porto Ristorante in the lovely, historic Gastown. While sunny weather is always nice, there is a certain magical feel to Gastown in the drizzly rain. The restaurant was large, with great friendly servers and traditional decorations. 

We started with a complimentary Bread Basket that I thought could have been better to match the sophistication of the restaurant. The bread was not exactly fresh out of the oven, although it had a nice crust and a soft, airy inside. However, I loved the focaccia. It was so soft and a little chewy.Image

The Linguine Pescatore was a common dish amongst our group. The seafood was fresh and nicely done: mussels, clams, prawns, squid, scallops, salmon, and halibut. Unfortunately, there was only one scallop, which is my favourite seafood… ever. The fish added a nice touch since you eat it with the pasta unlike the shellfish, which you usually eat separately. The linguine was al dente and the tomato sauce very flavourful with a touch of cream.Image

The Calamari was served with a chili aioli and a red onion bruschetta. The squid had a thin but crispy batter with the chewy seafood nicely done on the inside. I liked the chili aioli but would prefer the bruschetta. I thought it was an interesting touch for calamari.Image

The Mussels were steamed with garlic, shallot, and Italian parsley in a tomato broth. The broth had a decent herb flavour but could have been thicker with more seasoning. The mussels were okay, nothing outstanding.Image

Finally, since it was a birthday night, we all had a small bite of Tiramisu. It was a lovely bite. Coffee, liquer, lady fingers, sponge cake, cocoa powder, and most importantly, mascarpone. It was fresh, sweet, soft, moist, and absolutely scrumptious!

It was a really nice dinner, at a nice, fancy, but not over the top restaurant. I think a seat by the window would be a lot nicer and would actually be a great place to enjoy an upscale brunch of light dinner in the glow of the setting sun. 

Al Porto Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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Deep in a Japanese Coma – Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant

ImageMay 9, 2013
Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
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Eda-Mame
Green Salad
Salmon Sashimi
Tuna Sashimi
Spicy Seafood Cone
Chicken Teriyaki Roll
Spring Roll
Deep Fried Gyoza
Shishamo Karaage
Chicken Karaage
ImageChicken Udon
Beef Udon
BBQ Beef Short Rib
BBQ Chicken Wing
BBQ Korean Pork
BBQ Salmon Kama
BBQ Yakitori
Oyster Motoyaki
Salmon Teriyaki
Fruit Jello
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ImageWow, another very long chat late into the night. Seven friends met over dinner and exchanged gossip and stories for hours around a large table at Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant. We were all deep into food comas by the end but unfortunately, there was nowhere to go but home at 11:30, especially with early mornings for some the next morning. Image

The Eda-Mame was standard, which means no where near as good as the ones I have had almost everyday in Tokyo. It just was not flavourful enough – lacking salt while boiling – and the doneness was inconsistent.Image

The Green Salad was the most pathetic way to celebrate National Salad Month. It was such a small portion, with iceberg lettuce, what tasted like a carrot puree with a tangy dressing and sesame seeds, shredded carrot and red cabbage, and some scallions.  Image

The Salmon Sashimi was good, with a nice texture. It was actually quite fresh and the fish was really bouncy but firm. Vancouver’s salmon sashimi rarely disappoints, even the regular kind.Image

The Tuna Sashimi was less impressive. It did not taste as fresh and the fish was not as firm as I would like. It was more mushy than the salmon.

The Spicy Seafood Cone was not extremely spicy. I found the seafood a little dry and the flavour was not bold enough to stand out amidst all the rice in the cone. Image

The Chicken Teriyaki Roll was actually good. The chicken was tender. The teriyaki sauce was sweet and had a good consistency. The vegetables made it refreshing and there was just the right amount of sauce drizzled over it. Image

The Spring Roll tasted like it came out of a package. It was fried nicely but you cannot really screw that up anyways. The vegetable filling was not exactly amazing. This was more generic than anything. Image

The Deep Fried Gyoza looked better than they tasted. The filling was a little small and the wrappers, while very crispy, tasted a little too greasy.

The Shishamo Karaage was a nice change. I have not had these little fish in a very long time. I really like the lot of fish eggs inside each fish. They were the best part of this little thing.

The Chicken Karaage were simply deep fried without much seasoning or anything for that matter. The chicken wings were juicy on the inside but these were just mediocre. Image

The Chicken Udon had one small piece of fried chicken cutlet over udon noodles. The chicken was okay. The broth was decent and the noodles were just a tad overcooked.

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The Beef Udon was pretty bad. The udon and soup were good enough but the beef was incredibly tough to chew; it was just too sinewy and did not have much flavour. ImageImageImage

The series of BBQ included Beef Short Rib, Chicken Wing, Korean Pork, Salmon Kama, and Yakitori. The short ribs were tasty and sweet. The chicken wings were a lot better than the deep fried kind. Clearly, the sweet sauce makes all the difference here! The Korean Pork was dry and tough. There was not much flesh on the salmon kama, or salmon head, and it looked quite intimidating! Finally, the yakitori, or chicken skewer, was actually very flavourful from the spice marinade and very juicy. This was one of the better dishes of the night.Image

The Oyster Motoyaki was creamy but a little too heavy. You really need to be partial to these motoyakis to be able to stomach more than one. The oysters were small and not very fresh either.Image

The Salmon Teriyaki was a little dry but at least it was salmon with the lovely sweet sauce.

Finally, we all ended with Fruit Jello. These were generic, colorful, and kind of fun to play with. They were very jiggly and for someone in a deep food coma at midnight, it might be just the tad bit fascinating.Image

Ninkazu will satisfy your regular craving for generic Japanese food. If you are looking for anything remotely close to fine dining, go somewhere else. If you are just seeking out a place to catch up with friends over A LOT of food, this would be the place for you.

Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant 仁和日本料理 on Urbanspoon

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Out of the Water and Onto the Plate – 築地すし鮮 (Tsukiji Sushi Sen)

March 8, 2013
築地すし鮮 (Tsukiji Sushi Sen), Chūō, Tokyo, Japan
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とろろ茶碗蒸し {Chawanmushi}
イタキャタピラオーバーロール {Caterpillar Roll}
海鮮たっぷり丼 {Seafood Don}
玉子 {Tamago Sushi}
[Miso Soup]
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ImageAfter our incredibly cool visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market and looking at the variety of fresh catch of the day, we were craving to try some of the freshest seafood for ourselves. The samples we tried were so good that we could not pass up this opportunity for another amazing sushi lunch. Thus, we found the Tsukiji Sushi Sen and decided to step in.

We started off with complimentary とろろ茶碗蒸し {Chawanmushi}. The egg custard was so soft and delicate. I loved the shiitake mushrooms inside this traditional appetizer!Image

Casey opted for a very cute イタキャタピラオーバーロール {Caterpillar Roll}. The fish roe eyes just stared up at us. The seafood was very fresh and the avocado creamy. The salmon was really good and so was the rice. However, there was nothing amazing flavour-wise. The mayonnaise did not do much to elevate it. Image

I ordered the 海鮮たっぷり丼 {Seafood Don} with various pieces of fresh sashimi. The fish was incredibly fresh and of top quality. From left to right, I had (I think): octopus, halfbeak, pink snapper, salmon, squid, bluefin tuna, scallop, and medium fatty tuna. The bluefin tuna was especially tasty. The octopus (tako) and squid (ika) were so chewy and hard to eat. They were also very fishy. The other assortment were all decent and paired nicely with the bowl of tasty sushi rice. Image

Another friend ordered many pieces of 玉子 {Tamago Sushi}. The sweet egg was so fluffy and airy but firm enough. I love these sweet egg omelettes. These were particularly chewy over delicious vinegary rice. 

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The [Miso Soup] was very good as well since it was made from fish bones. I love a rich bowl of miso soup, not greasy and very refreshing and flavourful. This was such a great lunch and on this super warm and sunny day, our moods were all lightened and it was just delightful to be able to spend the final day in Japan this way. 

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Gimme Gimme that Shabu-shabu – えこひいき

March 5, 2013
えこひいき, Taitō, Tokyo, Japan
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豚のしゃぶしゃぶ鍋 {Shabu-shabu}
“まずは”枝豆 {Edamame}
サーモンカルパッチョ {Salmon Carpaccio}
マルゲリータのナンピザ {Margherita Pizza}
揚げジャコのカリカリサラダ {Fried Crispy Sardines Salad}
白身魚のフライとポテトフライ {Fish & Chips}
うどん {Udon}
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ImageA huge group of Eiichiro’s friends took us shopping around Asakusa and then we all went to have all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu nearby. What a party it was! All of it surrounded by delicious, spicy food that left all of us in a food coma very quickly.Image

First, the 豚のしゃぶしゃぶ鍋 {Shabu-shabu} was a spicy broth base served with unlimited plates of pork, bean sprouts, and cabbage. The pork were not incredibly thin and stuck to each other. The fat made the soup very oily and I had to clean the oil in it half way through so it did not become too disgusting. I loved the spicy soup and the slightly sweet cabbage together, though!Image

A few appetizers were also served, including the “まずは”枝豆 {Edamame}. These were boiled to perfection, soft but not mushy.Image

The サーモンカルパッチョ {Salmon Carpaccio} was nice but very fishy. The fish was so fresh and chewy though! I loved the texture. The sauce was okay and I actually enjoyed the pureed daikon on top. Image

I’m not sure if what we had was their マルゲリータのナンピザ {Margherita Pizza} as it did not have basil, just some parsley or other herbs on top. However, it was very cheesy and delicious. I love gooey, melted cheese and a flavourful marinara sauce. The crust was chewy and soft. The shape was kind of funny, I thought.Image

I’m also unsure of the salad, which seems – after some online searching – to be 揚げジャコのカリカリサラダ {Fried Crispy Sardines Salad}. It was more like a green salad with tomatoes, small radish slices, lots of romaine, and a small mound of some sort of bonito flake-like strips on top that were very fishy. I loved the acidic yet sweet salad dressing. The Asian taste is very much suitable for my palate!Image

Another dish came halfway through – the 白身魚のフライとポテトフライ {Fish & Chips}. The fish was moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. I enjoyed this comfort food, although, like the pizza, it was out of place at such a restaurant! The fries were very generic.Image

Finally, we also got small dishes of うどん {Udon} to put into the shabu shabu. They were quite al dente and went nice with the spicy soup.

Such a nice party, filled with way too much food! It is amazing how crazy large parties with university students can get. Lots of food and lots to drink, and everyone laughed the night away.

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